Monday, 19 November 2007

Symbolism, Meaning and Reality

When we experience, we do not experience reality. Reality is matter; physics. We experience through a veil of cultural conditioning. What we experience is the symbols given to us by our cultural substrata. The archetypes that exist within the noosphere of social life; this informs all our perceptions.

In this way, Plato was wrong: we do not live among shadows of the Ideals. We live among the Ideals, for they are not outside of us, they are within us. It is the Ideal of redness that we experience, with all the associations and emotions that are tied into it. Redness is not a quality of the world, it is a quality of the mind, the broad cultural mind we live in. This sphere of Meaning is essential to experience. We do not experience the Facts of material reality, for they are meaningless. Experience is Fact filtered through, informed by, Meaning. And Meaning is determined by the cultural conditioning, the archetypes we have grown up in which provide our context. In a way, this is objective: Meaning exists outside of us as individuals, and symbols take on their own life apart from the culture which generates them. The causative mechanism is opaque; thus, symbols are objective, independent of subjectivity even though they are not Real in the strict, material sense. This is the group soul of Jung, I think. And this, this realm of symbolism and of Meaning, is in all the important ways more real than Reality.

Funny though, how for Idealists such as Plato, we live in a material shadow of the symbols which are the true Reality, transcending experience which demands particularisation; when in fact it seems to me we must reverse the picture and we live in a symbolic, Ideal shadow - epiphenomenon - of material Reality which is beyond experience. We demand universals, categories, in order to make any sense of the data we are bombarded with. We create those Ideal boxes in order to confine Reality into a comprehensible form - a narrative.